Donor Site Care (Xeroform) Plastic Surgery Patients
What to Expect
When you return from surgery you will have a bulky dressing in place over the area from which your skin was taken. This area is called the donor site. You may have some drainage oozing from the site. It may be blood tinged. The dressing will be removed the next day. There will be a yellow gauze over the donor site called xeroform (zeroform). This gauze will remain in place until the donor site is dry. Then, you will start to remove this gauze.
Routine Donor Site Care
The donor site is “dried” using a blow dryer on a low, cool setting. Blow dry the donor site for 15 to 30 minutes at least 4-5 times a day. You should keep doing this until the gauze over the donor site is dry. When the gauze is completely dry, you can gently peel it off to expose the skin beneath it. Any “new skin” that you expose should be covered with Nivea® or Elte Lite® lotion at least three times a day.
1. It may take a few days for the donor site to dry. It may take longer if the donor site is very large. The more you use the blow dryer, the quicker it should dry.
2. Be sure the donor site is completely dry before peeling off the gauze. The gauze will feel hard to the touch at this point, and may have scabbing on top of it.
3. The gauze over the donor site will dry from the edges toward the middle. As the edges dry, the gauze will curl up. These curled edges can be trimmed with scissors. It may take a few days to remove the entire gauze from the donor site.
4. If the gauze is peeled off too quickly, the skin under the gauze will stay raw and moist and may bleed. You should stop peeling and continue to blow dry if this happens.
5. Healed donor sites are a deeper pink/red color. They look like a sunburn. The color will fade over time.
6. You should NOT soak in a tub or shower with the gauze intact unless your doctor tells you to do so. Once the gauze is dry, it is best to peel it off. If you get it wet, it may cause the skin underneath to get moist and sticky again, and you would have to begin blow drying the donor site again.
7. You will feel some pain when you peel the gauze away. Once it is removed and the Nivea® or Elte Lite® lotion is applied, the area will feel much better and less “tight”.
When to Call the Doctor
- Any increased redness (about 1 inch in width) and swelling around the donor site.
- Foul smelling drainage or pus from the donor site.
- Your temperature is greater than 100.5° F.
- Pain not controlled with medicine.
If you have any questions or problems once you are home, please call
Plastic Surgery Clinic, Monday-Friday from 8:00-4:30 pm, at (608) 263-7502.
After 4:30 pm, weekends or holidays, the clinic number is answered by the paging operator. Ask for the Plastic Surgeon on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, call the toll-free number 1-800-323-8942.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 05/11/2011
Copyright © 05/11/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5313
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